World lights up 2014 from Sydney to New York

Fireworks lit up the New Year from Sydney to New York as the world welcomed 2014.

There were records to be broken and new traditions to be launched.

Dubai made a pitch for the world fireworks record by shooting off more than 400,000 pyrotechnics along its waterfront.

London added taste and aroma to its show, releasing cherry- and strawberry-scented fog to the pyrotechnics over the London Eye big wheel on the River Thames. Forty thousand grams of banana-flavoured confetti filled the London air.

The biggest early celebrations were in New Zealand and the Australian city of Sydney, where an estimated 1.5 million revellers thronged the harbour area to watch fireworks explode over the famous bridge and Opera House.

“I’ve never seen so many people in Sydney,” said 90-year-old Dorothy Humphries, as she and husband Alf, 92, gave up their bid for a ringside seat and settled for a faraway bench. “When we were younger you could just turn up on the night and get a good view.” A pre-bedtime firework display for Australian children was followed three hours later with a 12-minute midnight extravaganza to herald 2014.

In New Zealand’s Gisborne, the Rhythm and Vines festival saw the star attraction, German-born internet mogul and one-time fugitive Kim Dotcom with his band.

Buddhist temples across Japan rang out the old year. Many people, some clad in kimonos, flocked to temples and shrines to make wishes for 2014, after the country experienced a modest economic recovery in 2013.

In India, people flocked to end-of-year parties at hotels and clubs, amid tight security and curfews over heightened concerns of sexual violence after a gang rape a year ago and more recent assaults. In New Delhi, key roads were clustered with check posts.

In Indonesia, authorities in the capital of Aceh province warned residents against holding New Year celebrations in the streets, saying they were a sin.

“We are deploying 150 personnel to prevent gatherings of people lighting fireworks or blowing trumpets on New Year’s Eve,” said Reza Kamili, the chief of the religious police in Banda Aceh.

In Russia, there was high security, after two bombings in the southern city of Volgograd claimed more than 30 lives in recent days.

In Berlin, hundreds of thousands chanted the countdown and yelled off the final seconds of 2013 near the iconic Brandenburg Gate.

An estimated 2.3 million people crowded Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach to ring in 2014, the year Brazil is to host the football World Cup.

Singers, musicians, DJs and samba dancers set the tone from three giant stages, under a 16-minute firework display provided by 24 tonne of pyrotechnics, launched from eleven rafts moored off the beach.

About a million revellers in New York’s Times Square sang in the New Year as they watched the traditional sparkling crystal ball drop.

In freezing temperatures at midnight, the ball dropped to the sounds of Auld Lang Syne and the classic New York, New York.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a native New Yorker, pressed the button that activated the ball. The honour has recently gone to a series of pop culture icons, politicians and sports figures, such as Lady Gaga, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and boxer Muhammad Ali.

The Big Apple celebrations also saw performances from stars including Miley Cyrus and Blondie.

But there were many reports of firework-related accidents around the world — some leading to death or serious injury.

One man died when a rocket went off in the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, while in Austria another was killed when he went to investigate an unexploded rocket that ignited as he leaned over it. Another man died of a firework injury in France.

In Italy, two people had hands amputated after accidents — one of them a seven-year-old boy. Dozens of emergencies were reported throughout Italy and in other countries.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 12:24:49 PM |

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